A Big Dog, Flannel and a Fire PitBy Bill 3 comments
As I write this, Michael Hamby is somewhere in the air between Detroit and Tokyo on his way to Bangkok, Thailand, first destination along his way on a two-year tour with the Peace Corps. Although I think MBH is quite more advanced than his father in so many ways at the age of 24, judging from the flurry of activity at 4:00 AM on the morning of his departure, he still hasn’t bested his dad’s flare for leaving things for the last moment. So, with his mom, yours truly and Himself operating on a combined total of six hours sleep, there we were, in various capacities,
filling out paperwork, hunting down a camera card the size of a Barbie Doll Valentine and standing around. I was standing around. Then I was waiting in the car. We left in plenty of time to catch the hideously early flight, but then we had to turn around to retrieve Tressa’s phone that MBH was taking to Detroit. Take two: We backed out of the driveway under a full moon, big and as bright as Michael’s future, and like Muhammad fleeing Mecca to Medina, we got this Hegira rolling.
Six or seven days earlier, on the second-to-last day of the year, there arrived at Hamby Land a troupe of MBH’s friends from his four years of matriculating at Marlboro College in Brattleboro, Vermont. This “troupe,” a word I use because all six humans and one large dog were crammed into a small vehicle, that in their words, really resembled a circus clown car - not because of funny costumes, that depends upon your take on flannel - for as they unfolded themselves one after another it seemed impossible one more could emerge. Then came the dog, the size of a pony with a disposition sweeter than my mother’s fudge. These friends, close as brothers and sisters, including the three guys that MBH roomed together for four years straight, had spent close to twelve tight hours on the road from Brattleboro, Boston and Providence. And they reversed the trip on New Year’s Day, some thirty-six hours later. A road trip is a road trip. But when your friend is launching himself across the globe for two years, and even with Skype and e mail there can be a connection, good-byes are important, and if at all possible they need to be in person. A big dog with a big heart just makes it that much better.
Providentially, the weather in Richmond hung in right about 65 unseasonably warm to very warm degrees when the troupe was here. This meant that long after TCH and I turned in, much firewood was burned in the fire pit and the fire place, and many, many beers were consumed. And, what is not to like about house guests that can, and LIKE to cook – and clean up after themselves? Best, they are all good people who found one another along the way and share a bond that will stretch far beyond New England and Thailand. It was terrific to be in the presence of their affection for one another. MBH is a lucky man. And Kasha, the mongrel mix of Ridgeback and Lab? She thought my Lou Holtz impression was hilarious.
They left later on New Year’s Day than they should have; they lingered, putting the final adios aside, along with some tears and laughs, but then someone nudged them along and the clown car was loaded up, then gone.
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I waited at the curb at the airport after we said good-bye to Michael, his mother wanting to return to the terminal for one last moment near him. When she got into the car I asked if all was okay?
She said, “He’s exhausted. I told him to get some sleep on the plane.”
Headed west, toward home, I looked at the clock on the dashboard. “Damn,” I said, “the sun won’t be up for two more hours.” And that full moon, an ET moon. I quite expected a child on a bike to fly across it.
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